This was race 8 of the 9 race SUMS this year. Although this is a 'shortie' compared to others in the series, I knew it would be tough in places so planned on a 7 hour completion time, but would be happy with around 7 and half hours.
I drove up to camp at Findochty (3 miles east of Buckie) on Friday night and pitched my tent right on the edge of the site, overlooking the rocky beach. This seemed like a great idea at the time, the sea air and the views were stunning. The early evening was peaceful, warm and still, with the water gently lapping onto the lower beach. I walked along the beach onto the golf course and returned to the village using the cliff top 'Moray Coastal Path' and watched the sun slowly dip below the horizon from the harbour area. Amazing. Had something to eat and sorted my running stuff for the next day, so I wouldn't be in a rush in the morning, and laid out what I would have for breakfast. By 9 o'clock it was starting to get dark so decided to try and get some sleep as I would be up early.
Like many others, I had been under the impression that this dropbag point was actually in Fochabers and had expected to have seen my parents here. But it was only for dropbags and marshalls. As it was, my drop bag was enough for me and soon refilled my bottles, had a pot of custard, crisps, gel and a can of coke. Another runner was going round everyone offering strawberries as he had too many. Very tasty, thanks. After around 6-7 minutes here I decided to push on and hoped to see my parents before the finish in case I needed more supplies. I had fallen around 10 - 15 minutes behind schedule and wasn't sure if I had enough in the tank to get me to the end under 7 hours. So I would settle for 7 and a half. When I arrived in Fochabers my parents had managed to catch up with me and had my kit bag and extra supplies with them. I hadn't expected to see them so it was great to get some encouragement and the change to get some more food/drink before the last 10 miles. I decided to change race packs here and use my one bottle pack over the last section. I also left my waterproof jacket and all the other silly stuff we carry on these events. I only took the lighter pack, a 600ml bottle of juice and my phone. I had half a can of Red Bull and asked them to meet me at Spey Bay for the other half. On leaving I decided to break this last section into two 'dog legs' of 5 miles each. The first being to Spey Bay and the second to Buckie. If I could cover each of these legs in roughly an hour I would get my 7 hour target. It would be tough but possible if I didn't encounter any problems along the way. Shortly after leaving Fochabers I came over all rejuvinated and even caught and passed two runners on the run to Spey Bay. As I approached the bay I could see some marshalls had set up a table with drinks and sweets. I gratefully took a cup of water and headed over to my parents car. I asked my parents for the other half of the can of Red Bull. They had tranferred it to a plastic bottle and when my dad handed it to me i commented that it looked like a bottle of pee!! (hoping he hadn't handed me the wrong bottle!!) I downed it and ran on. I had a little over an hour to get to Buckie within my target. 5 miles left. This remaining section is run along the coastal paths and the wind was hitting me on one side which made the going tough. Soon I could see the church spires poking up in the distance, but they never seemed to be getting any nearer. So I decided not to look at them and just concentrate on getting to Buckie. I ran a bit, walked 30 seconds, ran a bit, walked 30 seconds.............As i entered buckie I really began to dispair I wouldn't get 7hours as the pavement just seemed to go forever. At one point I thought i should have turned right sooner as I saw no direction signs in sight. I was fair gubbed from running with that wind, but then I got a glimpse of a bright orange bib in the distance, a marshal at last. I thought this was the turning, but no. Keep going to the next marshall was the instruction. I kept going. Then around a corner and a marshall. And my dad walking my way. He saw me, turned and began running away!! You are almost there the marshall said. I hate those words sometimes!! Its a nasty wee hill finish to this race. I passed my dad and turned into the grassy finishing area, hearing my mum shouting encouragement and crossed the line. Had i? Did I?
6 hours 57 mnutes and some seconds. Excellent, by the skin of my teeth I had achieved my 7 hour target.
A huge well done to Sarah and her team of marshalls and volunteers for running a great event today. Great medal as well and a wee bottle of whisky. Well done to all who started, regardless of finishing or on your completion time. Big thanks to my parents again for encouraging me to keep pushing forward. I didn't take any mid run photos today as I wanted to concentrate on the running, so if you want to see the scenery along the way (put a few I nicked on here), you'll just have to run it next year!! And I wasn't going to state the obvious, but I was epically magnificent yet again. Happy Running.